Pirate, king of birds


This wild young cockatoo was taken to central Australia, where the skies would eventually be large enough for his freewheeling temperament to roam. Within days of arriving in Alice Springs he came to live with my family as a basically wild, and seemingly untameable, rebellious adolescent. He hated everyone and hissed like a mad white ghost whenever anyone went near his cage. Every day I talked to him, paid him many compliments for his extraordinary beauty, and gave him the name of Pirate. Somehow I managed to clean his cage with all the newspapers he ripped up without having my hand bitten off while he was going completely bananas, and then I brought him fresh gumtree foliage to beautify his home, which he destroyed along with the newspaper, and gave him saucers of cut-up fruit, vegetables, seed and water. In other words, he was the boss and I was his slave.

The little king spent his days watching me with his beady black eyes while listening to either classical or country and western music, and while I wrote my novel Plains of Promise. He took a keen interest in everything I did and ate, who I spoke to on the phone, the endless trail of visitors and, probably, he picked up all the local intrigues of the crazy ins and outs of Northern Territory politics, the confidential strategic thinking in Aboriginal campaigns, and whatever conversations were going on.

One day, about six weeks after he arrived in our lounge room in a big cage and simply within no particular moment, instead of trying to bite me as usual, he let me pat him…


You can read the rest of Alexis Wright’s story of Pirate here:



Image Wikimedia Commons

5 thoughts on “Pirate, king of birds

  1. It was a treat to live (briefly) in a place where cockatoos, and lorikeets, and huge bats fly around freely, and ibises climb on the picnic tables to scavenge your food. How like life to have one of them become attached to you and then eventually leave. Not clear — did he die? Just go off somewhere else? but in any case, whether he left because he was fickle, or whether he left because he died, life brings loved ones in from the general world full of wonders, makes them special for a time, and then they go. Thanks, Gert!

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